On International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, Canadians across the country should join in renewing a commitment to end all discrimination, while remembering the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community’s long and difficult struggle for equality and acceptance; one that continues to this day.
Here in Canada, the LGBT community has made notable progress in legal rights, dating back to the decriminalisation of homosexuality under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1968, to equality rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to the assent of the Civil Marriage Act in 2005. In our schools, gay-straight alliances and similar support groups challenging homophobia are becoming more common, and I am proud to say I presided over one once upon a time. Further, harassment and discrimination are increasingly rejected. From immigration and employment protections to adoption rights, Canada has a record of confronting homophobia.
Nevertheless, the stigma many individuals confront in their daily lives remains very real, both here at home and around the world. In many countries, LGBT individuals are not only deprived of basic dignity but frequently face imprisonment, brutality and even death.
Today is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the significant challenges that remain, but also to stand united in celebrating and advocating for diversity. All Canadians must continue to unequivocally defend LGBT rights as human rights.